Tuesday, November 29, 2016

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Terry Meets His Hero While Amy & Rosa Help Holt with a Problem in 'Skyfire Cycle'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 4.08 "Skyfire Cycle"

When famous author DC Parlov receives death threats, Jake and Terry take the case, so that Terry can meet his lifelong hero. Back at the precinct, Gina forces her way into the Boyle clan of cousins in an attempt to choose the location of the annual Boyle family vacation. Holt's anger peaks when Amy chooses Kevin's side in their argument about a math puzzle.

The main story of "Skyfire Cycle" follows a pretty standard sitcom setup. It's once again a cautionary tale about never meeting your heroes. Terry is revealed to be obsessed with the author of a Game of Thrones-type book series. The show never hides the fact that it is spoofing Game of Thrones with Skyfire Cycle. Those comparisons are pretty apparent. And yet, the show makes sure the audience gets it by having Jake and Boyle make that comparison in the actual story. That's fine if just a little too perfunctory. That can basically be how to describe this overall story as well. Jake and Terry is a comedic pairing that works incredibly well. They are different characters but work well together when it comes to solving cases. They can both be silly and serious. There is just too much standard sitcom plot for this story to really break out as something special though. In the past, the show has no problem taking familiar stories and putting a new spin on them. Here, the story plays out beat for beat almost exactly as one would suspect. So that does ultimately take a lot of the energy and momentum out of it. The comedic hijinks does manage to rebuild some of that but not enough to completely save the story.

So, it's amusing to watch as Terry shows his obsession with DC Parlov to the other detectives at the precinct. It's also funny when he is so shy around the author at first. But then, the story follows the predictable route of making DC an inspiring figure at first only for later information to completely contradict that. Again, it reenforces the idea of never meeting one's heroes because they will always disappoint. DC's life isn't inherently bad. He has a best-selling book series, a ton of super-devoted fans and can get any woman he desires. The show doesn't actually do a whole lot with this character. He's just a figure for Terry to admire. Apparently, this book series is what motivated him to do something in his life. It helped him find his path in this world. That's great and makes for an interesting visual. Little Terry is exactly like older Terry in his mannerisms. But again, it just feels so simple and doesn't require a whole lot of thought. It doesn't provide that much insight into what this book series actually means to Terry. In fact, all of the glimpses Jake gets of the material makes him question how anyone can read it - though in his defense he's not big on reading in general.

Of course, it takes the predictable twist of revealing DC not to be as great as Terry thinks. Terry thought DC wrote a special inscription himself. That's what led to the life he has today. DC remembering it all of these years later makes Terry so happy and excited about this case. And then, he is filled with doubt when the death threat matches the handwriting on the inscription from all those years ago. It's an exact match which seems a little too simple as a resolution for the detectives. It's then that it's revealed that DC doesn't remember Terry at all and didn't write the note. That makes so much sense. The world Terry and Jake were living in was a fantasy. A fantasy that DC propped up in the beginning. But a fantasy nevertheless. Terry is crippled with self-doubt. Jake motivates him to take action because he's an inspiration even without the books. And then, Terry takes down the bad guy. It's such a simple story. One that is pretty predictable every minute even though the characters have a couple good and fun times with it.

Overall, "Skyfire Cycle" relies on a couple of character pairings that have proven to work well in the past. It's once again a three story episode which are never really the show at its best. It's a part of the show though. This is how it fills 22 episodes a season and develops its strong comedic ensemble. Charles and Gina were such an unexpected pairing when they were first put together. And now, it's just so amusing to watch as Gina picks on him for all of his weird characteristics while also becoming more of a Boyle. The two subplots of this episode are so much stronger than the main story. It's just so funny watching a room full of Boyle cousins trying to make a decision. They are proven to be a clan of people who can easily be swayed by whatever they last heard. So, it's great to see Charles and Gina both try to get the last word in. It's even better to watch as Gina has clearly done her research. She just wants to go to Aruba but she has to manipulate her new relatives in order to do so. So even when she wins, she does lose somewhat because she is fully embracing her new Boyle nature - which is slightly terrifying to her.

And then, Amy and Rosa try to help Holt and Kevin as they get into a fight about a math problem. It's perhaps the simplest of the stories in this episode. But it is also the funniest once again because of Holt's absurd reactions to everything. The show has done a story like this before where Holt gets caught up in a math problem that he just cannot understand. The previous version of this story was much better because it incorporated more of the characters while was fundamentally about a challenging math problem. Here, it's less about the statistics and more about the disconnect between Holt and Kevin. Rosa has the easy and blunt solution to the actual problem. Holt and Amy want to fixate on the math problem as being the only thing causing tension in Holt's marriage right now. Rosa is very clearly right. She bluntly says so as well to the bafflement of everyone else. These characters are extremely close. But it's still surprising when Rosa just openly says that Holt and Kevin need to "bone." Andre Braugher's montage reaction to that word is pretty incredible. Yes, it continues the trend of Holt becoming very broad of a character this season. But again, that's not much of a problem when it's still this hilarious to watch. He can just yell "Bone!!!!!" forever.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Skyfire Cycle" was written by David Phillips and directed by Michael McDonald.
  • Apparently, the squad is still working during the night shift. That's surprising but it shouldn't be. It hasn't been addressed for awhile now. It always felt like a concept for an episode but not an ongoing plot. And yet, it's still apparently happening.
  • Unsurprisingly though, the squad has given the night shift the best crime stats it has ever had. So they are still doing the job well. But that could serve as justification for keeping them on this shift instead of moving them back to days.
  • The cold open with Jake trying to slide across the full bull pin was amusing but also pretty straight-forward. He attempts the feat, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" starts playing, the elevator opens with Holt inside, and then the two emerge with Holt praising him for doing the task. It's funny but follows some traditional plot beats.
  • Boyle: "We're going to Iowa. We've already rented the tent." Gina: "Tent singular? Charles, tent singular?!?!"
  • Amy: "Kevin is right." Holt: "You're fired." Amy: "What!"
  • Terry: "This is the best day of my life." Jake: "You have 3 kids Terry." Terry: "I stand by what I said."
  • Holt: "Bone!!!!!"